Bridge City Business

It seems I’ll have lots to keep me busy over the next few weeks here in Lethbridge. The following are a few highlights of the brewing world I’m particularly looking forward to:

1. Coulee Brew Co. is finally opening its doors in Lethbridge. After a long wait, this city will be home to a brew pub, complete with a restaurant, meeting space, and a growler bar. I had the opportunity to attend the soft opening, and was impressed with the stunning facility, trimmed to the nines with reclaimed wood.

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Shipping pallet chic.

The menu was innovative with just enough classic dishes to satisfy the most traditional eaters. While I was disappointed that Coulee Brew’s beer was not yet ready, they do offer a few great pics from other local breweries (Tool Shed, Bench Creek). I’ll be patient. Good beer takes time.

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Duck tacos with cherry salsa and goat cheese and some beer cheese soup off of Coulee Brew Co.’s new menu.

2. Theoretically Brewing – a lesser-known (but locally acclaimed) microbrewery that somehow flew under my beer-dar and opened earlier in December. More to come on this topic.

3. And of course, the aforementioned home-brewing adventures. While I haven’t yet started brewing, I have devoted a substantial amount of time to choosing a name for the first brew (soon to be revealed). That counts, right?

I’ve also had a bit more time at home and in the kitchen. As much as I enjoy meals cooked by others, there is a certain satisfaction I get from completing a demanding recipe, especially one I can eat when I’m finished.

I tend to use truffle oil in everything I add mushrooms to. While both the black and white truffle have strong, unmistakable flavors of their own, it’s especially good with other fungus-y foods. I liken it to  – sure they’re expensive, but you really don’t need much to get the job done. If you don’t have truffle oil…that’s really too bad. There is no substitute. You can either shell out the $25 for a bottle of half-decent infused oil, or make a less-delicious version of the recipe below.

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They’re delicious, I promise.

Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb. Cottage pie is made with beef. What then, do you call a turkey dish topped with vegetables and mashed potatoes? Suggestions, please.

WARNING: The following recipe makes a great deal of food – make sure to invite a few friends and use the absolute biggest pan you have. Likewise, you could easily divide the recipe in half or prepare and serve it in individual ramekins.

Turkey Mushroom Cottage Pie

with truffle, parsnip, and beer gravy

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Obligatory decorative vegetables.

4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 medium parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup milk

4 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp. truffle oil

2 tbsp. flour

3/4 cup dark beer

2 cups diced carrots (fresh or frozen), steamed

2 cups frozen cut green peas or beans, thawed

2 pounds (900g ground turkey)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp dried sage

1 egg

1 cup Panko or breadcrumbs, divided

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Ground black pepper to taste

  1. Combine potatoes and parsnips in a large pot of boiling water. Cook tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes and parsnips and add butter and milk. Season with 2 tbsp. of the minced fresh rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Heat olive oil and minced onion in a skillet over medium heat with a pinch of salt. Once the onions begin to release moisture and turn translucent (about 5 minutes), add mushrooms and truffle oil.
  5. Whisk together beer and flour. Add to mushroom and onion mixture, stirring gently. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken.
  6. While the mushroom gravy begins to thicken, combine ground turkey, garlic cloves, sage, egg, 1/2 cup of Panko or breadcrumbs and remaining fresh rosemary in a large bowl. Combine well to form a thick meat-dough (almost like you were to make a meatloaf).
  7. Transfer meat mixture to a deep, greased casserole dish and press firmly into the pan.
  8. Cover meat layer with mushroom gravy, followed by steamed carrots and green beans.
  9. Finally, top casserole with potato/parsnip mixture and sprinkle remaining Panko and parmesan overtop.
  10. Bake in preheated oven until tops of mashed potatoes are lightly browned and the edges are bubbling, about 30 minutes.

 

Serves 8

Butte-y Queen

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Though he did lend his voice to mighty-fine Joker at one time.

I like comebacks…most of the time. Actors, musicians, and otherwise talented people who, instead of fading into oblivion, decide to get back on stage and relive their glory days.

Take Harrison Ford…wait, bad example. He had his chance and blew it with the fourth Indiana Jones. Take…Mark Hamill. Sure. That guy hasn’t seen much live action in a good long while. And here he is at age 64 picking up his lightsaber again in Star Wars Episode VII. Sure he might not have a long run of movies, but at least he’s getting back out there.

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The Butte Brewing Company could be considered a similar venture, though it’s one that I’m sure will last longer than Mark Hamill’s return to the big screen (no offence Mark). While Butte has an excellent in Headframe Spirits, it’s still been at least 50 years since a brewery has operated in this ole’ mining town.

This establishment opened just this year prior to the summer festival season, and has started to establish itself as a butte-brewing-co-logolocal watering hole. The building itself is 3500 square feet with high ceilings, an event room and an upper floor of tables – leaving lots of room for events and mingling. My favorite part? The brand uses the same logo used by the company more than 50 years ago.

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I had the opportunity to test their wares during a recent trip South to celebrate the American turkey day with some family. Currently the brewery offers 7-8 varieties on tap. I found the Rye Ale at first to have a pleasant earthy richness, with a hint of the grain’s unusual mineral finish. I was however, disappointed that I was unable to taste the IPA, which uses an intriguing balance of Simcoe, Centennial and Citra hops with Chinook varieties for bittering the brew.

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A collection of pertinent antique beer bottles.

While the Butte Brewery first of the breweries to grace the mining town’s streets, it certainly won’t be the last. Muddy Creek Brewing recently opened. Copper Wild Brewing is also set to open up soon. Not to mention the other 50+ Breweries in the state.

You might be thinking. “50 breweries! That’s a lot to see. Is there a benefit to visiting them all?” Or maybe you’re not. I’m no mind reader. But if you were, the answer is yes.

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The Montana Brewery Passport is a worthwhile investment for MT residents who appreciate craft beer. Likewise, it’s a fun project for Canadians who like to hop across the border every so often – for skiing, shopping, or otherwise. Participants who complete their passport by visiting all the open breweries can send in their passport for the official “Montana Brewery Passport” stamp (as pictured above left) as well as a pair of 16 oz. pint glasses, while other prizes are promised to come.

References

Montana Standard http://mtstandard.com/news/local/butte-brewing-company-open-in-time-for-festival/article_0b75fd99-a370-5f11-9243-fb3dbd399e6f.html

Monana Brewery Passport http://www.montanabrewerypassport.com/faq.html

Taco the Town

For the last week or two I’ve working on a compendium of Alberta’s craft breweries. Unfortunately though, breweries in Alberta are like weeds – as soon as you think you’ve got them all, another one bursts through the cracks of the sidewalk.

I figured I’d start in the fawild-craft-logor South. Partially because I live there, but also because I’m too lazy to start on researching the Calgary ones. There isn’t too much to talk about here in Lethbridge. Yet.

Wild Craft Brewery was set to open in Lethbridge in Spring 2015. For a while I could find the Wild Hops IPA and Pilsner varieties in most liquor stores, though they were brewed in BC. But days and months went by with no opening date set.

Then they were gone. Nothing to be found bearing the brand but a lone six pack at the bottom of the shelf.

Turns out this brewery is currently undergoing a name change to Coulee Brew Co. Named after the  carved by glaciers that line the Oldman River, Coulee Craft will be the first brewery in Lethbridge in 25 years since the Molson-owned House of Lethbridge Brewery closed its doors. However, the countdown on Coulee Craft’s website still reads 102 days left to go – I’ve circled December 6th on my calendar.

I’m disappointed I have to wait a while longer for a brew-pub in my town of residence. I’ll have to explore the myriad of available brews from Calgary in the meantime. But you can’t always get what you want. Fortunately, you can always get tacos.

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Marinated Steak Tacos with Tequila Guacamole

2lb (600g) lean top sirloin steak

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprikaIMG_20150804_194208

1/2 cup beer

2-3 tbsp hot sauce (I use Valentina*)

2-3 ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup shredded white cheddar

2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce or cabbage

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

10 small corn tortillas

Tequila Guacamole

3 ripe avocados

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp tequila (1 oz. shot)

½ cup diced fresh tomato

½ tsp salt

  1. Pre-heat your BBQ to medium-high for cooking over direct heat.
  2. Prepare the top sirloin for marinating using a meat tenderizer or by stabbing it repeaatedly with a fork. The latter is far more satisfying. Transfer to a bowl or zipper-seal bag.
  3. Combine hot sauce, beer and spices in a small bowl. Whisk to combine and pour over meat.
  4. Marinate for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day, turning occasionally.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the tequila guac. Scoop the avocado pulp into a large bowl and toss with lime juice, tequila and salt. Mash avocado pulp with a fork or potato-masher. Fold in diced tomato. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
  6. Remove the steak from the marinade (discard the marinade) and grill, turning halfway through cooking, for a total of about 10 minutes or until medium-rare.
  7. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Toss the tortillas over the grill for a few seconds to warm them. Serve with tequila guac, sliced steak, lettuce, cheese, diced tomato and fresh cilantro.Valentina

Serves 4

*P.S. If you’ve never tried Valentina, you’re missing out. Smoky, spicy and slightly vinegar-y. You won’t regret it. Plus it’s $2 a bottle at Wal-Mart. I go through about 4 in a month.

References

Global News http://globalnews.ca/news/1520718/southern-albertas-first-craft-brewery-opening-this-spring/

Speyside Craft Brewery

For readers less-familiar with my recent activities, I haSpeysign1ve recently spent two weeks travelling through Scotland. Today I’d like to tell you about one of our greatest accidents of the excursion. After all, you can’t have an adventure without a mishap or two.

Speyside is one of, if not my absolute, favorite regions of Scotland. Not only do you have the highest concentration of Scotch distilleries, but each town you visit has its own character and charm.

My partner-in-crime and I had planned to visit the Highland Games at Gordon Castle in Fochabers on our last day in the highlands. Not only did we (and by we, I mean he) have to drive through 20 roundabouts on the left-hand side of the road, but we were sidetracked along the way.

I’m very easily distracted. Especially by beer. “Look! A brewery!” I exclaim as we pass through the town of Forres, begging my chauffeur to go investigate.

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Image courtesy Speyside Craft Brewery.
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Image courtesy Speyside Craft Brewery.

A man stood outside the door on his phone, his yellow pants matching the door and the trim of the building.We slowly drive up to the door and notice the “closed sign”. As we start to drive away, the man in the yellow pants waves at us to stay. We roll down our window to hear him say, “Hey, do you guys want to come have a look around?” He hangs up his phone and unlocks the door.

The man later introduced himself as Seb, and gave us an impromptu tour of the brewery. In only its second year of operation, the Speyside Craft Brewery is becoming a local gem in Scotland’s burgeoning craft beer scene. We were just a few weeks late to attend the second of their beer festivals, complete with music and food. Seb offered us a taste of their newest seasonal, and sent us on our way with some brewery swag.

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My kind of souvenirs.

The name of each lager and ale is crafted with a nod to local character and legend. Even the logo with its adorning cetaceans is reminiscent of the Moray Firth where many tourists flock to catch a glimpse of a dolphin or two. We went home with a bottle of their signature IPA – the marker of a good brewery. Named after the small county between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands that the Speyside Brewery calls home, this IPA is rich and malty, not unlike another of Scotland’s beloved beverages.

The river Findhorn.
The river Findhorn.
Just a big ole' rock.
Just a big ole’ rock.

Likewise, Speyside’s signature lager, Randolph’s Leap, is named after an iconic gorge along the river Findhorn where the rock banks are closest together. Legend has it that Thomas Randolph, the new Earl of Moray, was once chasing a local clan leader that had attempted to raid his castle in Darnaway. Alistair Cumming, supposedly leapt across the gorge to ensure the freedom . I guess “Cumming’s Leap” didn’t have the same ring to it. Nevertheless, it’s quite a romantic spot to go hiking so long as you bring enough snacks to avoid your travel companion becoming hangry.

It wasn’t until later in our journey we cracked open the IPA. We had brought it along into our hike up the Eildon Hills in the Scottish Borders. However, not needing a set of keys the entire time meant there was an unexpected consequence – we didn’t have the bottle opener that was usually attached to the keychain. Luckily, there were a few craggy rocks around to use as a fulcrum.

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It’s less comfy than it looks.

Is it somewhere I’d recommend a fellow traveller to visit, or at least seek out in a pub? Absolutely. Do I wish they exported to Canada? Absolutely.

Guess we’ll just have to go back and visit. Check out the Speyside story, learn about the region, and plan your visit at their website here.